I Am A Beautiful Rochester Woman: Amy Monson Shines Her Light

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Written by Photography by Dawn Sanborn and Tracey McGuire

Gathered around Sarah and Amy Monson, as witnesses to their fruitful lives together, were Sarah’s mother Kathy Hanson, their Daughter Lynnea Lehmeier, and treasured friends. Sarah’s admiration for Amy became a rendition of their love story as she read the I Am A Beautiful Rochester Woman nomination letter aloud, not holding back, letting tears flow between the lines of love and laughter. 

Nomination Love Letter 

I am writing to nominate Amy Monson because without question, she is the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Despite years of trying to help her see what I see, Amy still struggles to see her true and undeniable beauty.  

Amy doesn’t really see herself as beautiful but is grateful that I think she is. She wishes to be a prism, so that when people see and know her, they will see God’s light and love reflected because of who she is. If this isn’t beautiful, I am not sure what is.



Kicking Up Dust: Women are Changing the Face of Farming

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Written by Sarah Oslund Photography by Fagan Studios

Every industry has its stereotypes. Farming is no different. Just turn on your local country music radio station and you’ll hear song after song about farmer boys wooing ladies with their trucks and tractors. 

But the demographics of the farming industry are shifting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service says the number of men operating farms is on the decline, and women are playing an increasingly active role in the management of farms and ranches across the nation.

While statistics on paper may indicate that the number of female farmers has increased over the past few decades, generations of stories about those growing the food that fuels our nation clearly describe the pivotal and often under appreciated roles that women have played in the farming industry for centuries.



I Am A Beautiful Rochester Woman

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Written by Dawn Sanborn Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography and Tracey McGuire

Good Morning,

How many people will nominate themselves? That's right—I am nominating myself for this. I get told often that I need to do something for me. I would like to go to the store and not think about what someone else would want but instead what I need or want. I truthfully haven't bought a new pair of pants or even a shirt for myself for many years. 

I am currently almost six months pregnant, due February 1, and have gotten hand-me-down maternity clothes from anyone I know, making them into my own. Most items are too big, and I make them work to save money so I can make sure my son Tucker (age 5) can get what he needs whenever he needs it. I haven't gotten my hair, makeup or nails done since I was in high school. I figured that someone else could use the money I have if I have any extra. Most days with my hormones running on high, I don't feel the need to look "beautiful," as I watch my body go through many changes. This would be amazing for me once...to get this special treatment. (I don’t want) to worry if someone else could use what I have. (I want) to be able to look in the mirror, and be proud to call myself beautiful. 


Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

Age: 40

Family: Wife, Marcia, and eight children

Vocation: Program supervisor at Family Service Rochester, associate pastor at Word of Life Church, & executive director of Life Community Development Corporation

PAM: You’re really busy. How many things do you do?

TIERRE:At Family Service Rochester (FSR), I supervise three child welfare programs. Two look specifically at families of color, and the third is a truancy diversion program. I founded the Father Project, a parenting program at FSR, but it’s currently on hold due to lack of federal funding. And I preach at Word of Life Church.



Generations of Love: Determination to Stay Connected Keeps This Family Close

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Written by Tracy Will Photography by Fagan Studios

For many extended families, gathering together involves vacation time, airplane tickets and cross-country travels. for one group of southeastern Minnesota women, it's not that complicated. Getting four generations in one place is as simple as a short car ride. 

Jean Whiting, her daughter Lori McConnell, granddaughter Lindsey Rippentrop and great-granddaughter Layla Rippentrop all live within an hour of one another. Jean's in Hayfield; Lori lives in Lake City, and Lindsey and Layla live in Rochester.

"We get together as often as we can," says Lori. "We make it a priority, especially at those times when we really want to be with family, like holidays and birthdays—and we're there for the tough times too."



I Am A Beautiful Rochester Woman: Beauty Comes in All Shapes and Sizes, Sheri Rector Now Feels Beautiful

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Written by Rochester Women Magazine Photography by Tracey McGuire and Dawn Sanborn

SHERI RECTOR: I Am A Beautiful Rochester Woman Nomination Letter

By Stella Madden

Attending any charity event when food is freely and bountifully disbursed attracts needy people. Usually needy people are living on the poverty level or below (in some places considered the “untouchables”). I'm one of the needy people, and so is Sheri Rector. 

My first impression of Sheri was seeing her walk down those old, concrete, basement stairs at Bethel Lutheran Church (to Community Food Response).  Sheri's not a petite woman and isn't updating a fashion portfolio. Her presence might have made her a plus model during the Roman Era. She has long, thick, black hair, lacking any trace of gray. She has large, round, flabby arms (covered) in a flowered green summer dress flowing softly around her equally unshapely legs. She executes a maximum comfortableness, yet announces a cry for refinement, diet and exercise. 

My second impression of Sheri was artsy. We both attended a free painting class. Each participant in this women-only event made introductions and offered brief self-comments. Sheri did not lie or maintain a pseudo appearance. "I know I overeat. I can't help it. I don't feel beautiful. I feel ugly," she explains.


Karen Schaar grew up in the safety-net of Chicago suburbs. She went to college at Gustavas Adoplphs in Minnesota and studied abroad in New Zealand where she started climbing. “My first experiences climbing were exhilarating,” she explains.

After college, she climbed for a couple of years in Flagstaff, Arizona, a place that Karen says “has some amazing outdoor climbing.” While climbing, she met people from around the world who inspired her sense
of adventure. 


So much of climbing is about overcoming our own mental obstacles: Fear of heights, fear of falling, even fear of failing. Rising out of our own self doubt was the first lesson we learned when we decided to take on the adventure of indoor rock climbing.


The daunting walls at Roca Climbing and Fitness in Rochester stretch up to 39 feet high, with the competition wall standing at 48 feet. The holds and connecting ropes are color coordinated and labeled with numbers that correspond to the levels of difficulty. This allows for easy navigation and puts a novice climber more at ease. 


When you hear the words, “financial health” used in a sentence, does it make you feel just a tad queasy? Does your stomach do a tiny flip-flop and make you want to think more pleasant thoughts? If so, you’re not alone. Most people would rather have a molar extracted than think about their financial situation.


Most of us stress about money to a certain extent, depending on where we fall on the socioeconomic scale. Some of us may worry about big expenses such as the next family vacation you dream of taking, how we will pay for our kids’ college educations or if we are saving enough money for retirement.

Things get even more stressful when your financial uncertainties include wondering how you will be able to pay the rent, feed your family or pay for daycare, while praying that your car doesn't break down again, so you can keep getting back and fourth to work. Financial stress of this magnitude is a soul crusher. When you don't know how your basic survival needs will be met, it's difficult to think about anything else. When your back is to the wall and you don't have enough income to meet your expenses, you can feel trapped and hopelessness.


It started with a quiet, stirred excitement. Appetizers and drinks were ordered, and as we sat around the table at Stumble Inn 2 in Plainview, there was a mixture of elements—small, low chatter interspersed with laughter, sometimes two or three conversations layered and overlapping and colored Sharpies being shared among us all. 

“Who has the purple marker?” someone asks, glancing up from her coloring.


The objects we colored were a bit unusual from what might normally be used at a coloring party. They are not the typical pages from the adult coloring books seen in bookstores. Instead, we attended a Thirty-One Gifts party led by independent consultant, Amy Kastler. Our project for the party was a small, canvas container or tote called an Oh Snap Bin. 


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